For Ray Thomas, director of campus operations at Kuyper, safety comes first. And that
goes for him and for the Kuyper students he employs as Safety Officers on campus.
“I normally have 6-8 students who are Safety Officers each school year,” he said. “And a big part of my job is to make sure they are trained and equipped to do their job to the best of their abilities.”
So, in late August, Thomas and his student team spent four straight days learning a variety of skills, some of which they hope to never use.
Day 1 included active shooter training, and day two brought verbal judo, de-escalation and crowd control in the morning with aerosol defense (pepper spray) training in the afternoon.
The third day included fire safety with the local fire department, including the proper way to use a fire extinguisher, and the fourth and final day saw all officers trained and certified in CPR and first aid, including how to properly use an AED (automated external defibrillator).
All of this, said Thomas, will benefit the students as they make their rounds across the campus, typically from 4-11 pm, and assist their fellow students as needed.
“All the training we do is important in different ways,” he said. “Verbal judo is learning how to deal with unruly people, and CPR and AED training is for any type of an emergency. Fire safety and active shooter are certainly ones we hope to never use, but we need to always be prepared.”
Part of the pepper spray training included being sprayed, something that Thomas said is unpleasant but necessary.
“I have been sprayed (as part of training),” he said. “It is no fun. But all my officers carry Level 1 pepper spray, and they need to be trained and sprayed before they are allowed to carry it. It’s a valuable part of the training for sure, and I don’t expect any of my officers to be trained in anything I would not do.”
Students who took part in the training appreciated the opportunity to learn something that would make their work on campus more valuable.
Meika DeVries is a Kuyper sophomore and social work major. She said she appreciated the seriousness of the training and saw its relevance for the work she will do in 2023-24, especially the CPR training.
She also was one of the students who was pepper spayed.
“That was quite an experience,” she said with a chuckle. “I think I’d rather get tased, but I’m still glad I was able to experience the feeling and also to learn how to help someone who has been pepper sprayed.”
DeVries said she very much appreciates Kuyper’s relationship with local first responders.
“All in all, I’m glad to have had such in-depth training, and I will carry what I’ve learned from this summer for a lifetime,” she said.